By: Henry J. Fromage –
Another slow week, but did catch a couple of very distinct films to review and kept at my list of flicks to catch up with before year’s end.
216. Thank You For Your Service
The second of Jason Hall’s scripts after American Sniper to focus on the plight of our veterans on the home front, and his directorial debut, Thank You for Your Service has none of the perhaps jingoistic strains of that smash hit, but does echo many of its strengths. Miles Teller, Joe Cole, Scott Haze, and especially extremely impressive newcomer Beulah Koale all deliver heartbreakingly natural performances of veterans dealing with their PTSD in varied ways. Hall delivers a film that may toe the line of cliche in moments (and features the surprising and ineffective presence of Amy Schumer), but which delivers enough emotional impact to be spoken of in the same breath as classic portraits of American soldiers and the toll wartime has taken on them like The Best Years of Our Lives and Born on the Fourth of July.
Sylvio is about, well, Sylvio (played by himself, of course), a gorilla who works at a dead end debt collection job by day and films his puppet show, The Quiet Times with Herbert Herpels at night. When his path crosses with a Public Access talk show he finds a creative outlet and like-minded friends, but also the tyranny of popularity as he begins to be pigeonholed as a wild ape who smashes things on camera. The entire film is saturated with a thrift-store bought kitsch obsession which shows through in its design, costuming, and very mindset, but if you dig that sort of thing, you’ll likely the slow but pleasing rhythms of this indie film-making metaphor.
218. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
If you were pinned down to describe what a Noah Baumbach movie is like, you’re likely to find yourself describing his breakout, The Squid and the Whale, as he’s evolved significantly from his Whit Stillman-like Kicking and Screaming and his two Greta Gerwig collaborations, Frances Ha and Mistress America, feel like both more her voice than his and pleasing mellowed from their uneven and acidic predecessors in his oeuvre. Now, however, he’s delivered in my opinion his best and most distinctly proprietary work since The Squid and the Whale, in another story about children (Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, both great, and Elizabeth Marvel, even greater) obsessed with their intellectual and outspoken father’s (Dustin Hoffman) opinions of his underappreciated legacy. It’s awkward, hilarious, and actually genuinely touching at points, and finally feels like everything a Noah Baumbach film should be.